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I kayaked 2,000 miles along the Amazon.
I walked a high-wire between the chimneys at Battersea Power Station.
'And in December 2011,
'I embarked on my most demanding expedition to date -
'a 500-mile trek to the South Pole
'by kite, by ski and, in a world first, by bike.'
My legs! Ow-w-w-w!
It was most the incredible journey of my life
and this is my story.
Coming up in today's programme, I take a risky decision
that will definitely make my challenge of reaching the South Pole much harder.
It's time to say...
goodbye to the kites.
'My decision to ditch the kites doesn't go down well
'with team-mate Niklas.'
Today we have been moving at, like, 1.3 miles an hour
and that's way too slow.
Come on! Yes!
And the long days, with the punishing cold of Antarctica,
start to affect my health.
If it gets worse, this could exclude you from finishing your race.
My Norwegian team-mate Niklas and I have fewer than 250 miles to go.
Today we're back on the kites, but no sooner have we started
-and the wind almost disappears.
-The wind is dropping all the time so we just go slower and slower.
We both agree we need to switch to a quicker mode of transport.
-Biking or skiing?
-You want bike, I want bike.
That's the right answer!
When the kites are going well, they're great
because you can cover a lot of miles, and it's cool, fun and fast.
However, it very quickly becomes really annoying.
We spent about an hour and a half getting them in the air and unpacked this morning,
now we're going to spend another hour packing them away, changing the sledges, getting the bikes ready
so there's a lot of hassle involved.
Sometimes it's worth it. Today...
it hasn't been worth it.
'Over an hour later we're packed up and ready to go.
'When we ride the bikes, the crew have agreed to lend a hand.'
It's virtually impossible to cycle with two sledges - it just provides too much friction.
-So we've struck a deal with the crew
and they have agreed that when we're cycling,
they'll take all our non-essential kit.
Very kind of them, we appreciate it. ..Thank you!
We spend the next five and half hours riding the bikes,
and although only doing around three miles an hour, it's still better
progress than we would've had made if we'd stuck with the kites.
I'm really pleased they worked so well today.
We did 15 miles, which isn't a phenomenal amount,
but by the time we'd packed up the kites,
the day was getting on so we ran out of time.
If we'd started earlier, we could've done more miles.
The next morning the temperature has dropped again and I'm freezing.
The nearer we get to the South Pole it will become colder and colder.
And it's not just the temperature that's chilly -
my relationship with Niklas is starting to become just as frosty.
I don't want a kite, I want to use the bikes.
But I'm told, "We're kiting". "Oh, OK, how about shall we kite?"
No, "We're kiting." Oh, OK.
Reluctantly I take to the kite again,
but my bad mood doesn't last long as it IS a perfect day for kiting.
Today we're making a lot of progress. If anything,
we're going too fast.
We might have to rethink our strategy so definitely going to put more miles in on the bike
and get the cross-country skis out today.
And true to my word I'm about to make that radical decision.
We are past halfway with fewer than 200 miles to go to the Pole.
I came here intending to use three different methods of transport.
We've used the kites a lot, the bikes a bit,
but we haven't touched the skis.
We used the kite to put miles in the bank and we've done that
so it's time...to say...
goodbye to the kites!
Our pace is definitely going to slow down, but I'm determined
we can still make it to the Pole in 20 days.
We set off on the bikes with the remaining 190 miles
in front of us. It'll be tough,
but I think it'll be worth it. Let's see if we can do it.
My decision means we spend a bottom numbing day and half in the saddle.
But it's clear by the morning of day 12,
the bikes aren't performing as I hoped they would.
Been a really tough...
We managed to cycle for about seven and a half hours yesterday.
We did over 20 kms, which is about 16 miles, I think,
and then we hit really, loose snow
so we had to push the bikes
for the next sort of... three hours almost.
So we were on the go for nearly 11 hours yesterday
and we only just managed to do 18 miles.
We need to do that at least every day from here on in to get to the Pole in time.
Helen is now determined
to get to the Pole using only bikes and skis.
We have not been able to cycle at all.
It demands less energy to push the bikes, actually,
so today we just pushed the bikes.
Today, we have been moving at, like, 1.3 miles an hour
and that's way too slow.
I might have accused her of being too stubborn
about proving a point about the bikes, but if I feel that way
we have other possibilities to move more efficiently,
then I don't see the point in using the bikes just to prove a point.
'Niklas and I have been bickering a lot.
'Fundamentally we're just totally different people -
'he wants to get to the Pole in the quickest way possible,'
but we came here to use the three different modes of transport,
we came here to show that we can use those bikes a bit
and I'm determined to stick to that.
'He's got an issue with me using the bikes!
'It's kind of become a bit of a joke now, we argue so much!'
I just want to say,
"If you can't say anything nice, "don't say anything at all. Zip it!"
One thing we do agree on is that we should park the bikes
and use our third mode of transport.
We are now cross-country skiing
with a very large sledge. We're going slow,
we're doing about two miles an hour.
It's not as fast, but do you know what?
I feel like we're doing it properly.
I'd feel like a cheat if we came to Antarctica and didn't do this a bit,
although we've only been doing this for a few hours so ask me in two days
and I'll be saying, "Bring back the kites, not the skis!"
Let's crack on because we've got a long way to go.
It was a bad idea putting the bike on the sledge.
But of course, Helen being Helen,
I'm determined to cover as much as we can.
'I'm pulling more than my body weight, in excess of 80kgs,
'and the skiing is causing other problems -
'my feet are starting to hurt.'
Taken everybody's advice and stopped because my feet
are really starting to rub and I just thought, "I don't need any more blisters at this stage."
I don't want to be a drama queen, but I don't want to make it worse.
-It's the right thing to do, Helen.
-Sorry, my feet must stink.
Blisters can definitely stop you from completely your expedition
so it's very important to take good care of your feet
and prevention is the key thing, but then also, like now,
with Helen's feet starting to rub,
she did the right thing - stopped
and we took care of it. Hopefully we'll solve the problem now.
That would just be hugely embarrassing if I had to pull out of this because of blisters.
I'll tape them up every day and fingers crossed they won't get bad.
I don't think they'll get any better, but fingers crossed it won't stop me finishing this.
We're navigating to the South Pole using GPS.
Every day, we report our location.
South 88 degrees, 3.806 minutes.
It's clear from the co-ordinates we're simply not moving fast enough.
Our current speed is a pitiful 1.3 miles an hour,
which means we'll have to be on the move
for up to 20 hours a day.
That's quite depressing, isn't it?
I think doing 20 hours a day in a week
that would've been first in the world.
That's not possible for a human, I think,
because putting up a camp, putting it down, making dinner, breakfast,
leaves us maybe two hours' sleep.
Are we literally not going to bed tonight?
There's 24-hour daylight Antarctica so while it might look like
the middle of the day, it is in fact eight o'clock at night.
We travel for another two hours before putting up camp,
exhausted after a leg-breaking 22 miles.
We have taken a massive gamble. I say "we", I have taken a gamble.
We brought the skis and the bike so I think we should use them.
There is no doubt it's got ten times harder,
but I am convinced it'll be worth it.
The next morning with snow conditions looking firm,
-I insist we try the bikes again.
I need them to work as we've still got serious distance to cover.
About 140 miles to go.
We've got about seven days to get to the Pole.
And if I'm honest,
I don't know if I can keep it up. If we can't keep it up, we'll have to get the kites out.
I hope we don't because then we'll have used all three methods,
and as you can see, cycling ain't easy.
Even so I'm determined to try to cover a minimum of 18 miles today.
But after a gruelling eight and half hours in the saddle...
Argh, my legs!
..we've only achieved a disappointing 16 miles.
Two miles we need to do minimum. I'd like to try and do 19 or 20
just to put two miles in the bank if we can.
What do you think, Niklas?
-Everything is possible.
Good! On yer bike then!
We're on the polar plateau in the middle of Antarctica.
It's classified as a desert due to its lack of rainfall.
In some places, it hasn't rained for two million years,
-and its dry cold air is starting to irritate my lungs.
Helen's developed this cough as it's hard to work the bike
than the kite and so she's probably breathing more through her mouth
getting very dry and cold air into her lungs
and causing irritation for the lungs.
Today is a very special day in the history of Antarctica.
100 years ago today,
Captain Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole.
His story of struggle has become one of legend.
Scott and his team struggled to the Pole, but when they got there,
they found a Norwegian flag had already been planted. They couldn't claim it.
So, deflated, they turned around and headed for home.
But they didn't make it.
They died starving and exhausted.
Eight months later, their bodies were found
and alongside them were Scott's diaries. That's how we know what they went through.
When you think about how long they were here,
how mentally and physically exhausted they must have been,
it really does leave you in awe of Scott and his team.
Unlike Capitan Scott,
Niklas and I have the advantage of three modes of transport.
Already I've decided to ditch the kites
in an attempt to reach the South Pole on just skis and bikes.
But my determination to pull all our equipment
is slowing down progress, so there's a decision to be made.
So, the question is, do we now take the bikes
or do we ditch the bikes and ask the crew to carry them?
I kind of feel like we should take the bikes,
because I want to do it properly.
Pulling 20 kilos of metal isn't doing properly.
That's far more than properly,
it's like doing it twice as hard as properly.
Following Niklas' advice,
I've reluctantly given up my 20 kilograms of metal
and set out again pulling a much lighter sledge.
I thought we'd use the cross-country skis the least, and we have so far,
but I'm genuinely enjoying it.
I think it's a change, it's the novelty factor.
I'm still getting used to them.
I fall over my own feet a lot, but I've started to slide,
which is what Niklas told me to do, because it's energy-efficient.
For the next two days, Niklas and I ski pulling our lighter sledges.
This is called man-hauling
and it's the same technique Captain Scott used to get to the South Pole.
My cough is starting to really bug me.
I'm trying not to cough,
because that makes it worse, but sometimes you can't avoid it.
I am a little bit concerned about that, if I'm honest,
because it hurts more than anything.
My coughing hasn't gone unnoticed.
Team paramedic Gummi decides it's time to take action.
I'm a bit concerned that if you push too hard,
that you might be overdoing it.
What if we go for another hour, then we'll stop?
An hour is going to be a make or break for us in the whole run
but it could be more beneficial for your cough and yourself now
if we put up camp pretty soon.
OK, what about in half an hour?
-Half an hour?
-That sounds brilliant.
Right, I'm going. Let's keep it together for half an hour.
I get my way and carry on for another half an hour.
But a simple cough in these extreme conditions can
turn into something very serious very quickly.
The worst thing that could happen is this could turn into pneumonia
and we would have to pull you from skiing.
Take a deep breath.
Gummi's concerned my cough could be pneumonia -
a serious infection on the lungs.
At the end of the breathing tubes
there are clusters of tiny air sacs called alveoli.
Pneumonia causes these sacs
to become inflamed and fill up with fluid.
It's the combination of the freezing air and long hours
that have given me my bad cough.
I can hear a little bit of crackling
in the lowest part of your lungs.
It's not developed to pneumonia but if it gets worse,
we'll have to put you on antibiotics
and this could possibly exclude you
from finishing your race, your expedition.
I was a bit annoyed earlier, because I thought,
I don't want to finish before we've done 20 plus miles,
I don't want to finish before we've done x number of hours.
Actually, now I think that was a really good decision.
I don't know what I'm trying to prove by doing 14 hours,
because all I'm going to do is make myself ill
and then I won't finish and then I'll just...
Well, then I'll be gutted.
I think Gummi made me realise that I have to look after myself
and I have to take this seriously, and I can do that.
So, hopefully I can finish.
The next morning, I'm able to follow Gummi's advice
and give my body a well-earned break
because I've got a whole string of interviews for Sport Relief.
Oh, hello, is that BBC London?
Is that Radio 2?
It's Helen Skelton calling from Antarctica.
Today Sport Relief is being launched in the UK,
so I've been doing lots of interviews.
It's Thursday, Blue Peter's on air, so I'm talking to them as well.
How are you, Helen, live from the Antarctic?
This is quite amazing, isn't it?
However, it's eating into my day and it means
we're running out of time to do the miles that we need to do.
We've decided to get the kites out,
because if we want to make it to the Pole in time,
we need to do a minimum amount of miles every day
and today, we're just not going to have enough hours.
So, pray for wind, people.
Not that kind of wind. That kind of wind.
I'm delighted to be back on kites.
I know it's a change of plan, but my wake-up call from yesterday
means I need to get to the Pole before my cough gets worse.
She has a bad cough,
so it's good to use the kites to let her lungs rest for a bit.
I was tossing and turning last night thinking,
" I shouldn't use the kites, I said I wasn't going to."
But that doesn't actually prove anything,
only that I'm stubborn and a bit stupid.
We can get to the Pole in two days if we use the kites now,
and that's what I came here to do, so I just need to do that.
For the next day and a half, kiting conditions are fantastic,
so we take full advantage.
In this time, we cover an amazing 72 miles.
At the end of day 17, my cough is improving
and the finish line isn't far off.
Tomorrow, if everything goes to plan,
we'll make it to the South Pole and that's what this has been about.
And it has been an adventure
in the sense that there's been highs and lows and ups and downs
and when you're in the middle of all that,
it's hard to see the wood for the trees.
It's hard to realise what you're here to do.
Today I just took a step back and thought,
"Do you know what? I came here to get to the South Pole in one piece."
And I don't want to tempt fate but it looks like that might happen.
Niklas and I pack up our sledges with all our kit
for possibly the last time.
Only 13 miles lie between us and the South Pole.
We've a long day ahead of us,
probably eight or nine hours of travelling.
But if we get it right and if we get on with it,
this is going to be the last day.
So, I don't want to go, "Oh, just get it over with,"
I kind of want to take it in because this is it.
You know, this is the last bit.
I forgot how heavy these bikes were.
After nine miles of man-hauling at minus 45 degrees,
we can finally see the South Pole!
Isn't it weird to see something on the horizon?
We've just been looking at a sea of white for a few weeks now.
Come on, sledge, nearly there.
I've got Elbow singing in my ear, "looking like a beautiful day."
You're not wrong there.
# ..it's looking like a beautiful day
# Someone tell me how I feel
# It's silly wrong but vivid right... #
I don't know how I'm going to feel. I don't want to waste it.
I don't want to cry and be a sad sap.
This is possibly the best adventure of my life
and I'm not sure I'm ready for it to be over.
My family is one of those families that says,
"This woman's got loads of jackets on,
"where do you think you're going, the South Pole?"
It's a bit of a joke.
I don't think they'll be able to say that any more.
# ..it's looking like a beautiful day... #
This is so comforting, isn't it?
"Welcome to the South Pole. Please follow the groomed footpath."
We're on the home straight.
Our epic 500-mile adventure
across the world's most hostile environment is coming to an end.
What better way to finish it than on the bikes?
-Shall we give it a go?
-Let's try it.
-Come on the bikes!
With only half a mile to go, we ditch the sledges and pedal.
I have to admit that I think it's really cool
to arrive at the South Pole on a bike.
Many people have been here since Amundsen and Scott 100 years ago,
but I don't think many have arrived on bikes.
# Throw those curtains wide!
# One day like this a year'd see me right... #
I can see the ball!
# Throw those curtains wide... #
Oh, that is such a good feeling!
# ..see me right, for life
# Throw those curtains wide... #
Thank you, Dermot.
Oh, can you believe that we are at the South Pole?
We're at the bottom of the world.
I'm so proud of the fact
that we made it using all three modes of transport.
I'm so proud of the fact that Niklas and I, complete strangers,
completely different people,
yet I think we've crossed the line as pretty good friends.
Helen and I had different expectations to the trip
but we are very good friends still today.
This might be the proudest day of my life.
And if you've been inspired by my challenge,
why don't you go the extra mile
and get involved in Sport Relief this year?
Get a grown-up and sign up to do the Sport Relief Mile.
There are hundreds of events around the country and by raising money,
you can help poor and vulnerable people
in the UK and around the world.
If this inspires you to give a penny or run a Sport Relief Mile,
then I thank you from the bottom of my heart
and the bottom of the world.
Next time, I take you behind the scenes of my polar challenge.
I thought the crew would use a GPS or a compass,
but apparently they just follow the penguin.
Meet the crew who supported me every step of the way
and discover what actually happens at the South Pole.
We set up movie nights, we have soccer tournaments, volleyball,
we're kind of easily entertained down here.
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